Jun. 20—CONCORD — When Ben Seiler started playing both soccer and basketball, he was drawn to arguably the most exciting part of both sports: shooting and scoring.
The Mascoma Valley of Canaan rising senior did plenty of both for the Royals on the pitch and the court last school year.
Seiler tallied 20 goals, becoming the program's first to reach the 50-goal career mark, and one assist as the Royals boys soccer team reached the NHIAA Division III quarterfinals. The striker, who also owns the program's single-season goals record (33), finished his junior campaign with 65 career goals and earned a spot on the All-Division III First Team for a second straight season.
The Royals boys basketball team also reached the Division III quarterfinals this past winter, during which Seiler, a point guard/shooting guard, became the program's eighth 1,000-point scorer and earned a spot on the All-Division III First Team.
"As a young kid, you're like, oh, you want to score goals," said Seiler after logging seven shots in the Monadnock Region team's 4-1 triumph over Lakes Region at NHTI in the Granite State Games last Thursday night. "You kind of work on it and you get better at it and when you play with these guys and they just let you play and do what you want, it works out."
The Granite State Games, an Olympic-style event featuring high school athletes from across the state competing in various sports on regionalized teams, is sponsored in part by the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Seiler credited repetition for his scoring affinity in basketball. The Enfield resident likes to take shooting practice on his own before the junior varsity game when Mascoma has varsity home games.
"Ever since I was a kid, you just got shots up," said Seiler, who played basketball in the 2019 Granite State Games. "That's kind of where I came from and playing the point guard and shooting guard position on and off. I always loved just shooting ... It's a fun part of the game, so that's definitely what I did a lot and I think it's definitely helped me."
Lebanon High School boys soccer coach Rob Johnstone, who also coaches the Monadnock Region in the Granite State Games, saw Seiler play twice against his team and once against Hanover last fall. The Royals lost, 4-1 and 3-2 in overtime, to Division II Lebanon and 4-1 to Division I Hanover.
Seiler scored at least once in all three games.
Johnstone said Seiler is fearless physically and mentally, has a short memory regarding his misses and wants the ball in big moments. The Raiders coach compared Seiler to Hanover's all-time leading scorer, Charlie Adams, who is now a junior at Brown University.
"He's going to score when that half-a-chance presents itself and that's not always the case (with players)," Johnstone said.
Seiler, who played center midfielder when he was younger, said he focused on being more offensive last soccer season. In basketball, Seiler tried to be more versatile and not just a scorer for the Royals.
Johnstone noticed Seiler's selflessness while coaching him in the Granite State Games last week.
"Sometimes big goal-scoring numbers can be associated with selfishness," Johnstone said. "That's not the case and I did learn that firsthand playing with him. It's about, 'When do I give it up so I can get it back in a more dangerous position?' combined with that, 'OK boys, I'm putting you on my shoulders.'"
Seiler scored his 1,000th career point in basketball in a 68-45 Mascoma home victory over Division IV Sunapee on Feb. 18. He needed 16 points to reach the milestone, which he scored in the game's opening 10 minutes, and had 30 overall in the win.
Seiler scored the 1,000th point on a 3-pointer, which he did not realize got him to the mark until he saw his teammates' reaction.
"As soon as I hit it, I kind of saw my friends and I was like, 'Oh, I think that's the one,'" Seiler said. "It definitely felt pretty good and it was an awesome moment to share with my friends and my teammates."
Both the soccer and fall seasons were difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Seiler said. Mascoma played with masks in both sports and did not allow fans at basketball games all season. Despite the pandemic-related challenges, Seiler is grateful both his teams got to play.
Seiler can never decide which of the two is his favorite sport and wants to play one, if not both, at the collegiate level. Over his final fall and winter seasons next school year, he wants to help both Mascoma's boys soccer and basketball teams continue their upward trajectory.
"I'm trying to leave a good kind of leeway for the kids coming up to build the program and make it the best it can be and I've still got one more year so we'll see how it goes," Seiler said.